May 23rd, 2019

Sunset Key, Florida

He could see the rink despite the murk that had descended upon his vision. Whether it was from the lack of air or light he could no longer tell, but before he knew it he was in front of the intricately-carved ring, his hands already brushing along the strange designs he could see etched into the stone that surrounded its opening, caressing it as though he’d seen it many times before and not just today.

A deep, rhythmic booming sound distracted him suddenly as it came from above, causing Evan to look up as he moved through the ring’s opening without thinking. He felt a brief tingle, then a faint pulling sensation, as though something was trying to resist and thrust him back through the other side. It didn’t take much effort as he forced himself away from the ring, but now his lungs were absolutely screaming for air as he pushed up from the sea floor without thought.

Propelling himself upward he fought against the need for air as he could see blackness beginning to develop at the corners of his sight, threatening to take over if he didn’t reach the surface soon. He could see the shimmering brightness above him, tantalizing in its closeness as it remained just out of reach. With one final burst of energy he reached for the surface with both hands, as though he could pull the water down so that he might lift his head up and take a life-saving breath of air.

And then his head broke through, and the first gasp seared his lungs as he crested, then fell back into the water, swallowing a mouthful of the salty fluid as he choked and sputtered. Evan’s muscles were screaming at him now, his lungs were like twin bellows that had been worked too hard, and his throat felt instantly raw as he continued to cough up the sea water that had entered his mouth unbidden.

But when he clear his eyes, the woes of his body became the least of his concerns.

(to be continued)


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